First Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ferry

The high-speed hydrogen fuel cell ferry boat is set to hit the waters of the San Francisco Bay Area.Image: Green Car Reports

The high-speed hydrogen fuel cell ferry boat is set to hit the waters of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Image: Green Car Reports

Diesel burning vehicles in the U.S. alone emit pollutants that lead to 21,000 premature deaths each year and act as one of the largest drivers of climate change. The traditional ferry typically burns around one million liters of diesel fuel each year—producing 570 tons of carbon dioxide. In order to help combat this issue, Sandia National Laboratories and the Red and White Fleet ferry company are joining forces to create the first hydrogen fuel cell ferry boat to hit the waters of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Currently in the early stages of development, the boat is set to be named SF BREEZE—an acronym for “San Francisco Bay Renewable Energy Electric vessel with Zero Emissions.” As far as consumption goes, the researchers believe it will take about 1,000 kilograms (2,204 pounds) of hydrogen per day to power the ship.

ICYMI: Listen to Subhash Singhal, a world-leader in the study of fuel cells, talk about the future of energy and climate change.

To satisfy this demand, the construction of the world’s largest hydrogen fueling station will begin off shore and will have the ability to service both sea and land vehicles.

But this isn’t Siemens first take on zero emission ferries. Earlier this year, the lab developed the technology for the world’s first electrically-powered ferry in Norway. This ship has already hit the water successfully, causing no carbon dioxide emissions.

PS: We’re currently accepting abstracts for the 229th ECS Meeting in San Diego! Submit today!

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Intentional Defect to Expand Graphene’s Potential


Mario Hofmann of National Cheng Kung University shows the example set up of electrochemical synthesis.
Image: Mario Hofmann/IOP Publishing

Graphene has been affectionately coined the “wonder material” due to its strength, flexibility, and conductive properties. The theoretical applications for graphene have included the five-second phone charge, chemical sensors, a way to soak up environmentally harmful radioactive waste, and even the potential to improve your tennis game. While everyone has big expectations for the wonder material, it’s still struggling to find its place in the world of materials science.

However, a team of researchers may have found a way to expand graphene’s potential and make it more applicable to tangible devices and applications. Through a simple electrochemical approach, researchers have been able to alter graphene’s electrical and mechanical properties.

Technically, the researchers have created a defect in graphene that can make the material more useful in a variety of applications. Through electrochemical synthesis, the team was able to break graphite flakes into graphene layers of various size depending on the level of voltage used.

The different levels of voltage not only changed the material’s thickness, it also altered the flake area and number of defects. With the alternation of these three properties, the researchers were able to change how the material acts in different functions.

“Whilst electrochemistry has been around for a long time it is a powerful tool for nanotechnology because it’s so finely tuneable.” said Mario Hofmann, a researcher at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, in a press release. “In graphene production we can really take advantage of this control to produce defects.”

The defected graphene shows promising potential for polymer fillers and battery electrodes. Researchers also believe that by revealing and utilizing the natural defects in graphene, strides could be made in biomedical technology such as drug delivery systems.

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Polymer Gel Could Create Super-Long-Acting Pills

This new extended-release device has less risk of breaking or causing intestinal blockage than previous prototypes.Image: MIT

This new extended-release device has less risk of breaking or causing intestinal blockage than previous prototypes.
Image: MIT

Researchers and engineers in all corners of science have been looking at the ways their specific technical interest area can affect medicine and health care. Whether it be implantable microchip-based devices that could outpace injections and conventional pills or jet-propelled micromotors that can swim through the body to take tissue samples and make small surgical repairs, researchers have been seeing the interdisciplinary nature of science and how it could impact quality of life.

A team of researchers from MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research have teamed up with Massachusetts General Hospital to develop the latest scientific advancement in health care in the form of a polymer gel that will allow for ultra-long drug delivery.

The prototype that the team has built is essentially a ring-shaped device that can be folded into a capsule. Once the patient has ingested the capsule, the device can expand back to its original form and deliver drugs over a number of days, weeks, or potentially months.

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Japan Turns Golf Courses into Solar Farms

golfIt’s all about repurposing. At least, that looks to be the case for Japan’s energy grid.

Beth Schademann, ECS’s Publications Specialist, recently came across a Business Insider article detailing Japan’s initiative to turn abandoned golf courses into solar power plants.

Japan’s Kyocera Corporation is taking the unused green space and making clean, renewable solar farms. They’re starting off big with a 23 megawatt solar plant that will produce enough energy to power around 8,100 households.

And they’re not stopping there. After their first project goes live in 2017, the company will go full force into their 92 megawatt solar plant project that is expected to power over 30,000 households.

Japan’s abandoned golf courses are prime real estate for solar farms, and there’s no shortage of potential here.

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Interning with ECS


Jawann McBeth, Development and Membership Intern

People may have their own assumptions of what an intern in today’s society should be doing. What kind of work should they be required to do? How many hours? Should they be getting paid? Decaf or two sugars with your coffee?

My name is Jawann McBeth, Communication & Media Arts major and rising senior at Montclair State University. I’ve lived in Mercer County, New Jersey my entire life and all those years I never knew The Electrochemical Society was just a few miles up the road. Being the newest member of ECS as a Development and Membership Intern, the last few weeks have been a transformative experience like none I have had in the past. I mean that both literally and figuratively.

I am actually transforming membership information from hard copy, sometimes ancient documents that date back to 1902, into a digital database that will allow files to be maintained permanently without the fear of missing or damaged documents. This project encompasses the scanning and organization of all of their membership information, such as application forms, resumes, change of address notifications and any other miscellaneous paperwork relevant to each member.

As I work on one of the biggest projects of my internship, I wonder to myself how could such a substantial organization with members such as Thomas Edison and H. H. Dow have been so far under my radar? Yet, what is most surprising about the organization is not how little people may know about the Society, but how much the work of the members is an integral part of most people’s daily lives.

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Call for Nominations – Edward Goodrich Acheson Award

Acheson-Medal_transThe Edward Goodrich Acheson Award, one of the oldest and most prestigious ECS honors, was established in 1928 for distinguished contributions to the advancement of any of the objects, purposes or activities of The Electrochemical Society. Read the nomination rules.

The recipient shall be an ECS member who is distinguished for contributions consisting of: (a) discovery pertaining to electrochemical and/or solid state science and technology, (b) invention of a plan, process or device or research evidenced by a paper embodying information useful, valuable, or significant in the theory or practice of electrochemical and/or solid state science and technology.

Did you know that since 1929, ECS has presented the Acheson Award 43 times? Of that number, 33 award winners have also served the organization as President. The most recent recipient of this award was Ralph Brodd in 2014, the 79th ECS President who was esteemed for over 40 years of experience in the battery industry.

Edward Goodrich Acheson (1856 – 1931) was an American chemist and the 6th President of The Electrochemical Society who invented the Acheson process, which is still used to make silicon carbide (carborundum) and later a manufacturer of carborundum and graphite. Acheson worked with Thomas Edison and experimented on making a conducting carbon to be used in the electric light bulb.

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ECS Podcast – Allen J. Bard, “Father of Modern Electrochemistry”

Regarded by many as the “father of modern electrochemistry,” Bard is best known for his work developing the scanning electrochemical microscope†, co-discovering electrochemiluminescence**, contributing to photoelectrochemistry* of semiconductor electrodes, and co-authoring a seminal textbook in the field of electrochemistry. He served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Chemical Society from 1982-2001.

Bard is considered one of today’s 50 most influential scientists in the world. He joined the Society in 1965 and became an ECS Honorary member in 2013. ECS established the Allen J. Bard Award in 2013 to recognize distinguished contributions to electrochemistry.

Listen to the podcast and download this episode and others for free through the iTunes Store, SoundCloud, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher.

PS: We’re in the process of creating a JES Focus Issue honoring Allen J. Bard. We invite contributions in the spirit of Dr. Bard’s multifaceted works in electroanalytical chemistry. Find out more!

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Sticky Tape Could Be Key to Better Solar Cells

The development of ultralight, ultrathin solar cells is on the horizon due to a new semiconductor call phosphorene.

A team of researchers from Australian National University have developed an atom-thick layer of black phosphorus crystals through a process that utilizes sticky tape.

“Because phosphorene is so thin and light, it creates possibilities for making lots of interesting devices, such as LEDs or solar cells,” said lead researcher Dr. Yuerui (Larry) Lu.

The fabrication of this phosphorene is similar to that of graphene, bringing the new material to a thickness of just 0.5 nanometers. With phosphorene’s novel properties, doors are opening for a new generation of solar cells and LEDs.

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Low-Cost, Bi-Functional Carbon Nanotube Sponges

Yu_images_700x532A group from Texas A&M University, led by Dr. Choongho Yu, have developed a carbon nanotube sponge that could lower the cost in the effort to commercialize electrochemical cells.

The researchers’ aim was to develop a material to replace the expensive Pt-based catalyst currently used in many electrochemical systems. While other researchers have previously attempted the same feat, the results typically showed low stability levels.

This from Texas A&M University:

[The team has] developed a new low-cost and scalable method to synthesize 3-D sponge-like carbon nanotubes, which are self-standing and highly porous. After post-treatment, striking catalytic activity and stability are found to be comparable to or better than those of Pt-based catalysts in both acidic and basic environments.

Read the full article here.

The researchers believe that these results could allow the commercialization of current lab-based electrochemical cells due and potentially lower the price of commercial fuel cell stacks.

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ECS Podcast – Esther Takeuchi on Engineering Life-Saving Batteries

We recently sat down with esteemed battery engineer Esther Takeuchi, the key contributor to the battery system that is still used to power the majority of life-saving implantable cardiac defibrillators.

Takeuchi’s career has made an immense impact on science and has been recognized globally. She currently holds more than 150 U.S. patents, more than any American woman, which earned her a spot in the Inventors Hall of Fame.

Her innovative work in battery research also landed her the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2008, where the president complimented her on her work that is “responsible for saving millions of lives.”

Listen to the podcast and download this episode and others for free through the iTunes Store, SoundCloud, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher.

PS: Check out the video version of this podcast and interviews with other world-leaders in electrochemical and solid state science as part of our Masters Series.

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